BMW and WSR aim to use their growing momentum to full advantage as they head to Snetterton this weekend to continue their British Touring Car Championship title challenge.
Riding high after a race victory and a third-place finish for Team BMW’s Colin Turkington at Brands Hatch less than a fortnight ago, the organisation’s quartet of BMW 330e M Sports will again be fighting to be on top of the podium in East Anglia.
For Brands Hatch winner and four-time series champion Colin, Snetterton has been a very happy hunting ground in recent years.
He has been victorious on the sinuous ‘300’ layout there every year since the current BMW 3 Series debuted in 2019 and last season was a double winner on his way to a 55-point haul – one of the highest single-weekend scores achieved by any driver in the BTCC.
Rising to fourth place in the Drivers’ standings and cutting the gap to the series leader from 25 points to 18 at Brands Hatch, the Northern Irishman is well aware that if he can win at Snetterton for a fifth straight season, he is almost certain to make further gains.
His Team BMW team-mates Adam Morgan and Stephen Jelley endured luckless Brands Hatch weekends as both were eliminated on the first lap of the opening race; the pair innocent victims of a multi-car incident caused by other drivers.
Adam showed all the racecraft that has made him an 11-time BTCC race winner to fight back from last on the Race-Two grid to sixth in the finale.
But the Lancashire racer is targeting a more straightforward weekend this time at a circuit at which he has twice finished on the podium – most recently with a second-place finish in 2020.
Stephen, meanwhile, was unable to start one of the Brands Hatch races, such was the damage sustained in the incident, but with his BMW fully repaired, he is aiming for a total reset to kick his season into life.
The Leicester racer was on course for a podium finish at Snetterton last year until he was spun off by a rival and has won there in other categories, so will be in a charging mood.
Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill has been one of the most consistent performers of the season so far, qualifying third at Donington Park and Brands Hatch and taking four top-four finishes from the six races held so far.
The Kent driver has finished on the podium three times at Snetterton – including a pair of second places last year – and is sure to be among the contenders this weekend.
All the races will be broadcast live from 1045 on Sunday on ITV4 while qualifying will be screened live on the ITV Sport YouTube channel from 1535 on Saturday.
For the first time in 2023, qualifying will use the standard format at Snetterton; ironically the venue where the ‘Top-10 Showdown’ used so far this year was debuted three years ago. That means the grid will be determined by the results of a single 30-minute session.
The use of the series mandatory hybrid-electric power system is different in 2023 to create a greater reliance on strategy from drivers at the front of the field – who have had their access to the 30bhp boost reduced since last year.
At Snetterton, owing to championship positions, both Adam and Stephen will be able to deploy hybrid power once their BMWs reach 115kph. Jake and Colin must wait until 130kph.
Colin will have seven seconds of hybrid power available on each qualifying lap with Jake entitled to 9s and both Adam and Stephen to 15s.
In Race One Colin will be allowed to use hybrid on four laps with Jake given five laps’ allowance and both Adam and Stephen having eight. These amounts will be re-set for the rest of the day based on the finishing positions in Races One and Two.
For the first time this year, all three Goodyear tyre compounds must be used this weekend, creating an opportunity for teams to impact their results more significantly than elsewhere through strategy.
Cars will use the control (medium) tyre on Saturday, but must also race with the hard and soft-option rubber on Sunday.
WHAT THEY SAID…
Colin Turkington (Team BMW) said: “We’re coming into Snetterton having established some good momentum at Brands Hatch. It was a clean weekend for me and to get a win plus a third and a fifth meant a really good points haul. I’ve averaged 55 points at Snetterton over the past three years, which is pretty extraordinary, but also shows how well the BMW 3 Series performs at the track. The history’s in our favour, but history never won me a BTCC race so we’ll need to get through each session, dial the car in and make sure we’re fast when it really counts.”
Adam Morgan (Team BMW) said: “Snetterton is a clean slate after the points we lost at Brands Hatch. I’ve been on the podium there a couple of times so I know what’s needed to get a result there. The frustrating thing about Brands Hatch is what we could have achieved. I passed a lot of cars in Races Two and Three, which shows how fast the BMW was. Last to sixth in two races means I’ve overtaken a lot of cars at Brands Hatch, where passing is possible, but not easy. With a clean weekend at Snetterton, with some consistency from the weather, I know we can be quick and challenge right at the front.”
Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) said: “I’m hoping for a good weekend. Brands Hatch didn’t go to plan through nobody’s fault; just some bad luck, but I know that in the dry we have very good pace. There’s a lot of potential there and I’m still fully confident that a race win or a podium is just around the corner. We know that Snetterton suited us last year. We had good pace, and it’s a handling circuit which always favours the BMW. The weather is looking nice, which would be good after changeable conditions for the first two weekends. Three strong results are what I think we deserve.”
Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) said: “I’m looking forward to Snetterton this weekend, especially after the mixed emotions of Brands Hatch. The BMW historically goes well around here so I’m hoping to be fighting at the front of the field all weekend. I’m currently fifth in the championship but I know there’s more to come, so it’s just a case of going out there and getting the job done, hopefully starting with a strong weekend at Snetterton.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “While it was very good to take our first win of 2023 at Brands Hatch, the unfortunate incidents for Stephen and Adam meant we didn’t score the points we wanted across the four cars. Snetterton gives us a real opportunity to put that right. The BMW 3 Series has been one of the cars to beat here and has won six of the last 12 races at Snetterton. We have everything we need to arrive at Snetterton with four fast cars but we’ll all have to dig extra deep to make sure we maintain our terrific recent form there, such is the ultra-competitive level at the front end of the BTCC this year.”